Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Our Favorite Salad Dressing

When it comes to salad dressing, in our home at least, it's a difficult task to find a store bought variety that has good ingredients and inspires us to eat the salad! Josh and I have made this one many times and always find ourselves wanting to continue to eat more sald just to enjoy the dressing. It's a fast, easy and great option for our family and I hope it will become that for you and your family.

1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
shake of garlic powder
2 tsp of Dijon Mustard
3 TBSP Real Maple Syrup

Put all ingredients into a small mason jar and shake until well combined. Dip a piece of lettuce in to check seasoning. Serve and enjoy

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Roasted Broccoli

Can you relate? The table is set, the kitchen is a mess, I sit at the table and tense up. I find myself holding my breath and pondering "Will they eat it? Will they like it? Is this meal going to end in frustration and hungry bellies?" But much to my huge and thrilling surprise, I escape that scenario when I make roasted broccoli!
As a mom, I have these moments of pure joy and a sense of accomplishment. This is one of those times!  It's a blessing to me to see my little one's mouths being stuffed with this vegetable and to end a meal with happy and full tummies. I hope it's a hit in your kids' tummies too. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

2 crowns of broccoli
Olive Oil

Chop broccoli into small pieces and place in a 9x13 pan. Drizzle with Olive Oil. Sprinkle desired amount of salt and pepper. Toss with hands to coat all the broccoli. Bake in oven for 25-35 minutes until soft and roasted.  I love cauliflower tossed in this. It is prepared exactly the same way and comes out with a toasted nutty flavor.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Chewy Cranberry and Mini Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I did it! This recipe comes with a big sigh of relief and a check of my list. For two or three months, I have been exhausting my husband's faith in me when it came to baking him granola bars. He will have a box in hand at the store, and I will say "Don't buy those, I'm going to make them." Well our last trip to the cereal aisle ended in "I don't think I believe you" SO. I tucked my kids in bed and pointed my focus to a new baking task. They were so simple to make and leave a mommy with the joy of knowing exactly what was mixed up in the bowl and how much money was saved. This recipe created 18 granola bars out of one batch and it probably cost me around $1.50!  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line a 9x13 pan with foil and brush foil with Olive Oil 
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup quick oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (dark chocolate if you can find it)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 Egg - beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil or coconut oil
2 tsp Vanilla

Mix up the dry ingredients. In one of your used measuring cups, beat up the egg. Add the egg, honey, olive oil and vanilla into the dry ingredients. Stir until well mixed. This will take a little determination, and the best kitchen tool for this are your hands! Once mixed, press the dough into your foil lined pan. 


Bake for 20 minutes for chewy granola bars. 25-30 minutes for a more crunchy bar. Cut through the bar while in the pan and then allow to completely cool in the pan to avoid breaking the bars.

This yummy creation was adapted from a Tasty Kitchen recipe.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

Facebook. It is good for so many things! For this particular blizzard ridden, home improvement work day it was good for a soup recipe from a far away friend that I really haven't seen in person since 8th grade! We have reconnected over Facebook and support one another from multiple states away. She had shared this recipe with me and I put it on the list for my next soup day. Because I was lacking the chicken her recipe called for I rummaged my pantry and found some gnocchi that I use in pot pies and soups to substitute the bulk that chicken would add. In case you're not familiar with gnocchi, (pronounced by Giada on the food  network as "neoki" )they are small potato dumplings that are used in Italian dishes. Little pillows of joy!  As I prepared this soup I thought back to two skinny little girls playing without a care in the world. Such a yummy soup, I hope you enjoy it also.

Olive Oil
1 small onion
4 sticks of celery
4 red potatoes
1/2 package baby carrots
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
garlic powder
4 cups of the broth of your choice (I used chicken)
2 TBSP flour
2 cups of cheddar cheese
1/2 package of Gnocchi- white beans or shredded chicken would also be nice in this

Dice the vegetables. Sautee the onions and celery in an olive oil. Soften for a few minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots. Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to your own taste. Stir over medium/ high heat for 10 minutes. Add broth and scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow to boil for 10 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are soft. Stir in the corn and peas, then transfer soup into a serving bowl and set aside. In that same stock pot on medium/high, cover the bottom of the pan, generously, with olive oil. Sprinkle the flour into the oil and whisk for 1 minute while that paste cooks a bit. Pour some of the soup's broth back in and whisk to disolve the flour paste. Add in the rest of the soup PLUS the gnocci and cheese.. Boil until desired thickness.  If you have trouble getting it thick enough whisk in another sprinkle of flour. Allow to simmer for a few minutes before serving. The original recipe had shredded chicken. I didn't have that so I added the gnocci. Also, this soup is wonderful without the cheese if someone is not a cheese fan (like, sadly, my hubby)  

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Iced Lemon Cookies

Cookie Monsters... I live with a bunch of cookie monsters! As my family, including our now cookie loving little girl, was exclaiming "Cookies please!!!" I saw the lemon. One lone lemon in our fruit bowl. That lemon thought quickly merged an iced sugar cookie thought and there you have it! The method to my madness on this one. These cookies are soft, fragrant and full of vibrant lemon flavor. They are quick and easy, essential qualities for a cookie loving family!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Ingredients: (This recipe is double what I made)
2 sticks of softenend butter
2 eggs
2 lemon zested and squeezed (squeeze over hand to catch seeds)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

For the icing:
1 stick of softened butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (not super sweet)
splash of milk
* If you had more lemon, you could add zest and lemon to this icing*

Mix the butter, eggs, lemon and sugar in a mixer until nicely combined. Combine dry ingredients in a seperate bowl and add slowly while mixing. Scoop out small balls and space them apart. These cookies did spread a little. Bake for apx. 8 minutes or until firm. You don't want them to brown.  Set aside to cool. Ice when served.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Vegetable and Mozzarella Quiche with Olive Oil Crust

  I think there's nothing more ladylike than quiche! I remember, when I was little, my mom would make quiche when she was having a special lunch visit with her friends. As a girl, it seemed so magical. My mom would use beautiful dishes, her and her friends would be dressed lovely and smelled so good. On those beautiful plates was served this amazing materpiece of quiche alongside a salad and coffee in dainty matching coffee cups. They were  ladies in all ways possible. Now I make quiche with the fond feeling of following in my mama's footsteps. It leaves me feeling accomplished and ladylike. And that doesn't happen that often! Maybe the best part of making a quiche is that you can use up just about any ingredients you have in your pantry or fridge. Not that really is woman friendly!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Ingredients for the crust:
1 Cup Unbleached Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup cold water

Mix first 3 ingredients and add water a little at a time until dough forms. Roll out on liberally floured surface and lay into pie dish. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Ingredients for Filling:
4 eggs
2 cups of milk
1/4 cup unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp pepper (depending on your preferance)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried basil (In the summer, fresh basil is amazing in this)
Desired diced vegetables
1/2 can of white beans
1 cup of Mozzarella cheese (or any cheese of your choice or you have on hand)

Whisk the eggs and flour. Pour in milk. Whisk with spices until very well combined. Stir in the vegetables and cheese. Pour into pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 more minutes. 40 minutes total. Or until the center of the quiche if firm and the top is dry and brown.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Whole Wheat English Muffins


I am a baker at heart! For years I made my family's sandwich bread and loved it. Having my little girl has drawn me away to other tasks, but I am slowly beginning to regain moments of my time. Breadbaking is a wonderful artform. I enjoy each step. From the smell of the growing yeast to the feel of the dough as I knead it back and forth. It brings my mind peace and quiet. I will share my new discoveries with you as I duck back into my baking apron!
Learning how to bake beautiful and wonderful bread is one of my years goals. Baguettes, Ciabattas, Sourdough, the list goes on. This recipe is going to be more of a how-to recipe since it is not an original recipe that I have come up with. I actually, for once, followed this recipe line by line. It was perfect as is! And I am thrilled with the ease of it and my success. Did you know that English Muffins do not get baked in the oven! They cook exactly like a pancake. It's a very interesting proccess... let me take you through it. 

1 Cup Milk
3 TBSP Butter
2 TBSP Honey
1 Cup warm water
2 tsp yeast
5 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup Cornmeal

In a saucepan combine the milk, butter, and honey. As the butter melts and the milk is steaming, but not boiling, whisk together for a few seconds. Set aside to cool to luke warm. Mix the water and yeast in a seperate bowl and let sit for 5 minutes to disolve the yeast.
Pour the cooled milk mixture into the yeast mixture. Mix in 3 cups of flour and mix until smooth. This can be done with a mixer or just with a wooden spoon. Mix in the remaining flour with the salt added into that until dough is no longer sticky. Pour out onto a floured surface and knead for 3-4 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cover a sheet of parchment with cornmeal.
                           Roll this dough out into a 1/2 inch thickness.
Using a glass or mason jar, cut sections out of the dough and place them on the cornmeal. Cover and let raise for 35-45 minutes or until rounds have doubled in volume.

This is where you would cook each rounds as you would a pancake. 8 minutes on each side.
I began in a cast iron skillet.

Quickly realizing that continuing with this pan would take me over an hour, I swiched to my electric griddle. Both had the same fantastic result!
Hello my Pretties!!!

Fork split perfection!